Barcelona are playing at this venue while redevelopment work is carried out on the Spotify Camp Nou, and they’ll have their first LaLiga match there on Sunday when they host Cadiz.
Barcelona have a temporary new home for the 2023-24 season, and it’s a stadium that boasts a lot of history. While construction work takes place at the Spotify Camp Nou as part of an impressive refurbishment project, the Catalan club will play their home fixtures at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in Montjuic, a hill with beautiful gardens which overlooks the city.
With capacity for approximately 50,000 football fans, the Estadi Olimpic is still one of the largest stadiums in LaLiga, and Barcelona will hope to replicate there what they achieved last season, when they produced the best home record in the competition.
The venue was originally built in 1927 for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, so is almost 100 years old. Most famously, it was the main stadium for the 1992 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, while several of the other Olympic venues are situated close by in the parks of Montjuic.
There is so much history packed into this venue and five things you may not know about the Estadi Olimpic are outlined below.
The Estadi Olimpic has hosted LaLiga football before
This stadium will host 19 LaLiga matches in 2023-24, but it won’t be the first time that Spanish football’s top competition has visited this venue. In fact, Espanyol played at this ground for over a decade, from 1997 to 2009, the year in which Los Pericos moved to their current home of the RCDE Stadium. The Estadi Olimpic has also been the venue for nine Copa del Rey finals over the years, most recently in 2004.
It is the venue where Messi made his Barcelona debut
The stadium is the site of one of the most significant moments in Barcelona history, as it was at the Estadi Olimpic that Lionel Messi made his official debut for the first team, making the first of his 778 appearances for the club. In a Barcelona Derby on October 16th 2004, the Argentine came off the bench as a late substitute for Deco, who scored the only goal of that 1-0 Barcelona victory. Messi, wearing the No.30 on his back, stood out and soon became a fixture in Frank Rijkaard’s side.
Barça have already played a European game at the Estadi Olimpic
Barcelona’s Champions League fixtures are being played in Montjuic this year, but they have already played a home European fixture at this ground, doing so back in 1996. That was in the 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, when they had to play their first round match against AEK Larnaca at the Estadi Olimpic because the Camp Nou pitch was being re-laid. It was a successful night, as Ronaldo Nazario scored both goals in a 2-0 win and as Barcelona went on to win that edition of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
NFL greats Steve Young and John Elway have played in Montjuïc
Some NFL greats have even graced the turf of the Estadi Olimpic, which hosted exhibition matches in the 1990s as part of the American Bowl series. In 1993, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14 in Montjuic, and in 1994 the Los Angeles Raiders overcame the Denver Broncos 25-22, with greats such as Steve Young and John Elway taking to the field in these games. Many other sports have been held at this venue over the years, including boxing, rugby and all the athletics events of the 1992 Olympic Games.
Some of the world’s biggest music artists have performed at this ground
Every year, the Estadi Olimpic plays host to major concerts and summer 2023 was no different, with Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Harry Styles and The Weeknd all performing there. In the past, other major artists have taken to the stage at this venue, such as Pink Floyd, Madonna, U2, The Rolling Stones, Shakira, Muse and Guns N’ Roses, among others.